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Schools must not be driven by the imperatives of technology

I NOTE with interest your report on the use of new technology in classrooms ("Smartphones and iPads must be allowed in class" , The Herald, January 26).

I have some concerns with the comment by Education Secretary Mike Russell that schools must keep pace with technology. While it is obvious that schools must reflect society, is he perhaps embracing the concept of technological determinism?

This has been shown to be a risky path in education and can distort the meaning of learning as it implies we humans are now driven by imperatives in technology regardless of the nature of the society we really wish to develop. Access to the internet has resulted in pupils in our schools being potentially awash with what is often to them, as individuals, pseudo knowledge in the form of superficial information. This can give the impression that learning has taken place if not controlled and monitored.

Teachers will have to increasingly move towards assessing pupils' deeper understanding rather than assess their presentation of transient, information-based content as there is clearly no point in assessing pupils' knowledge on something if it comes oven-ready from the web. This was always the problem with book learning but teachers could reasonably be familiar with a class textbook.

The most worrying inference from Mr Russell is that we seem now to be approaching the time when schools will, perhaps inevitably, phase out supplying computing hardware at all and expect pupils to bring their own, just as in the past they were expected to bring their own pencils.

An issue as we seemingly move towards universal elearning – on the cheap – rather than encourage profound and lasting experiential learning is that differentiation opportunities in teaching become narrower. Practical-based "learning by doing" is increasingly at risk as our schools move further down the path of depending on mainstreaming the world wide web. I am certain we will not meet all the learning needs of all pupils on that road.

Bill Brown,

46 Breadie Drive, Milngavie.

THERE used to be a television programme called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I wonder if, following your article about smartphones in classrooms, there might be an opening for a series Muffy the Language Slayer?

You quote Scotland's chief scientific advisor Professor Muffy Calder (no relation) as follows: "The task we were set was ambitious – to scope a long-term user-centred future for Glow and to imagine a future for the service that provides a seamless user experience and connectivity on the one hand, and an open range of tools on the other. I hope we have done that."

It makes one despair. Do these people waken up in the morning with a clear and cogent thought and spend the rest of the day translating it into meaningless jargon and drivel, or heaven forfend, do they actually think in these terms from the outset?

Michael Calder,

28 Macleod Drive, Helensburgh.

How astute of the Queen Mother to understand just how the Establishment works and how important the elite schools are in sustaining it ("Queen Mother's Charles plea", The Herald, January 28).

As she said in arguing that Charles should go to Eton: "It is important to be able to grow up with people you will be with in later life."

So no mixing with plumbers, bus drivers and all the other plebs who pay the taxes to sustain the monarchy in lavish style. She also only wanted a "staunchly Protestant" school.

Good at least to see her recognise that in going to a school near Elgin "he might as well be at a school abroad".

Isobel Lindsay,

9 Knocklea Place,

Biggar.

Contextual targeting label: 
Education

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